Gaultier variety show presents rocker runway chic in Paris

Sat Mar 2, 2013 5:13pm EST

* Electric show offers array of fabric and feels

* Graphic prints, rocker styles feature in collection

* Industry in slump, economic malaise weighs

By Alexandria Sage

PARIS, March 2 (Reuters) - Jean Paul Gaultier served up a fun, funky patchwork of outfits for his ready-to-wear fashion show in Paris on Saturday where a heavy emphasis on leather and rocker chic added to the anything goes Bohemian style.

Gaultier is a designer with many ideas in his head. His 2013/2014 autumn/winter season fashion show was no exception, where models sporting punky mullets evoked Ziggy Stardust with long, form-fitting jackets, gold lame leather pants or 1970s-era dresses.

The show evoked a late 60s televised variety show, with a backdrop of red, black and white block screens spelling out the designer's name in big letters, and accompanied by a 80s soundtrack from the Eurythmics to David Bowie to The Clash.

"I was playing with the idea of patchwork of fabrics, and with the hair I wanted patchwork as well," Gaultier said after the show. "It gave a David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust element, but more slender, fine with a masculine element."

In rich hues of brown, bronze, aubergine and black, the patchwork idea was literal. One multi-coloured dress featuring a side slit up to there was sewn together from an array of luxury fabrics, including velvet, embroidered cloth and sequins.

The idea was an extension of what Gaultier explored during his haute couture show in January where Rajasthan-inspired patchwork featured prominently.

The ready-to-wear shows largely determine what will be on department store racks and trendy boutiques the following season. In Paris, they follow on the heels of haute couture, the creme de la creme of fashion shows where only a select group of luxury names, including Gaultier, are allowed to show.

FUN AND FANTASY

Fashion brands are concerned over weak European economic health that has crimped spending, yet the best-known luxury houses are still protected by demand from wealthy buyers in Asia, the Middle East and Russia.

Sales in France's 11 billion euro women's ready-to-wear industry fell last year by 2.8 percent and a similar drop is expected for 2013, according to the French Fashion Institute (IFM), which would mark the sixth year in a row of lower sales.

But at Gaultier, majority-owned by Spanish family luxury group Puig, worries over the state of the economy didn't get in the way of fun and fantasy on a nippy night in Paris.

The black, red and white seen on the onstage screens made their way into fabric, which evoked stills from photoshoots.

"I went with graphic elements, like Polaroids where you see different poses, I thought make a print very figurative," Gaultier explained. "Everything is graphic, graphic - we are in a graphic era."

A silhouette of 1920s star Louise Brooks featured on the back of a black swing coat, while a flowing, see-through purple dress was paired with a structured, no-nonsense white military coat.

Leather was scrunched into oversized collars and paired with wool shrugs, a chic muumuu with one exposed shoulder made an appearance, and a shiny black dress worthy of Studio 54 featured a plunging neckline and plenty of attitude.

Gaultier, possibly influenced by the chilly temperatures enveloping Paris in recent weeks, presented various stylish looks with built-in hoods. Pulled up, they provided a cosy, warm body armour for the models.

"It's like a warrior with a strong silhouette - like a shell," said Gaultier. (Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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